An initiative of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

Love and Responsibility Series: Introduction

His Book – Love and Responsibility (1960):
First published in 1960, Love and Responsibility by Karol Wojtyla (St. John Paul II) has never ceased to be relevant as an analysis of the metaphysical and ethical dimensions of love. Wojtyla presented the themes of this work in his university lectures in Lublin. They are the fruit, he tells us, of conversations with and pastoral care of many couples over his years as a priest. “It is… the result above all of an incessant confrontation of doctrine with life (which is just what the work of a spiritual advisor consists of).”[i]

Philosophical Approach to Sexual Morality:
Explaining his philosophical approach to sexual morality, Wojtyla states that his aim is to “justify, interpret, and explain” the norms of Catholic sexual morality on the basis of personhood.[ii] He writes, “Sexual morality is within the domain of the person. It is impossible to understand anything about it without understanding what the person is, its mode of existence, its functioning, its powers.”[iii]

The Human Person – Personalism:
In other words, to understand Catholic sexual morality, you have to understand what
(who) the human person is.[iv] The approach Wojtyla takes in Love and Responsibility is called personalism.

For the next few weeks, MUR will look at Love and Responsibility and its contributions to understanding the dynamic relationship between man and woman.

[i] Wojtyla, Karol. Love and Responsibility (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1993), p. 15.

[ii] Ibid, p. 16.

[iii] Ibid, p. 18.

[iv] When we speak of persons, “who” is usually the correct pronoun. But in philosophy we often ask what something is in order to get to the core of it, and it is in this sense that we ask “What is the human person?” We are basically asking, what is the nature of humanity? What is the thing that we all share, that makes us all human persons?

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